For this week’s In The Kitchen, I returned to one of my favorite places -- Café Le Reve on the campus of Maryville High School. A quiet, relaxing atmosphere greeted me at the student-run café. This made for a nice break in the middle of the day.
Cafe Le Reve has been in existence since 2001 and is only open for lunch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Le Reve is French for “The Dream,” and the restaurant is the dream of Maryville teacher Sandra Elder. Cafe Le Reve is a student-run enterprise and offers students an opportunity to experience real work in an actual workplace environment.
The menus change from week to week. The restaurant is open from noon to 1:30 p.m., and reservations must by made by 10:30 each day. To-go orders must be called in or emailed by 11 a.m.
The café has received some community help, according to Sandra Elder. Blackberry Farms sponsored two benefit/fundraisers for them which raised approximately $40,000, which was used to add a front porch, new carpeting and remodeling of the dining area. The Alcoa Foundation of Alcoa, Inc., gave the café a grant to fund printing a cook book of recipes used at the café, with proceeds from the sale of the book going to buy cookware and other needed kitchen equipment.
The day I visited Cafe Le Reve, the menu offered Stuffed Shells, a tossed salad and dessert. The meal arrived and was prepared to perfection. Also, be sure to sample the homemade three-cheese Pimento cheese spread appetizer. It was delicious! You can choose from Coke products, flavored tea, tea, water or coffee to drink. All this is served by courteous and attentive student servers.
Cafe Le Reve is open only when Maryville High School is in session. It is closed during the summer, school vacations and semester exams. They have a direct line for reservations and to-go orders: 865-983-2373. The e-mail address is CafeLeReve@ci.maryville.tn.us. Menus are posted on the Maryville High School website for the days the café is open. To check out the main dishes offered for the week, go to http://www.maryvillecityschools.k12.tn.us/ and search the Maryville High School website for Café Le Reve.
While I don’t have the recipe for Café Le Reve’s stuffed shells, here’s one courtesy of Food Network’s Rachael Ray:
Four Cheese Stuffed Shells
8 pieces jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese or part skim ricotta cheese
1 pound mozzarella, diced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup shredded Asiago
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 or 7 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded
Preheat oven or broiler to 450 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and add pasta. Cook shells 12 to 15 minutes. They should be softened but still undercooked at the center. Drain pasta and cool.
Combine ricotta, 1/2 of the diced mozzarella, a couple of handfuls of Parmigiano and 1/2 of the Asiago. Add parsley to the cheeses and stir to combine.
To a small saucepot over moderate heat add oil, garlic and onions. Saute onions and garlic 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce 5 minutes and stir in basil leaves
Pour a little sauce into the bottom of a shallow medium sized casserole dish. Fill shells with rounded spoonfuls of cheese mixture and arrange them seam side down in casserole dish. Top shells with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella and Asiago cheeses.
Place shells in very hot oven or 8 inches from hot broiler and cook 6 to 8 minutes to melt cheeses and bubble sauce.